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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gref Tells St. Pete to Act Fast

Part of the 12.2 billion rubles ($386 million) that were allocated by the federal government for preparations for St. Petersburg's 300th anniversary next year could be taken back, Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref said.

"If the federal funds allocated to finance the reconstruction and restoration projects for St. Petersburg's 300th anniversary are not used this year, we will have to confiscate them," Interfax reported Gref as saying in St. Petersburg last month.

While some 70 percent of the sum has been handed over to the city, Gref said he "did not have the impression that the work is being carried out very actively."

Gref said 118 projects were designated to receive the funds but a number of the projects were running behind.

Gref said he issued instructions Oct. 25 forbidding construction contracts without a tender.

Alexander Afanasyev, a spokesman for St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev, said Gref was "confused."

"The question is when and how the funds are transferred," he said. "Projects such as the renovation of the Hermitage or the construction of the flood-protection barrier will continue next year."